MONTICELLO (AP) -- If the nuclear industry and government can't find new ways to store radioactive waste by 2003, Northern States Power Co. says it may not renew the operational license for its Monticello nuclear plant.
Although the license doesn't expire until September 2010, federal rules require NSP to apply for the plant's license renewal by 2005. To prepare for that, the company needs to have a sure waste disposal site by 2003, said Mike Hammer, manager of the 29-year-old plant.
Losing the plant would wipe out property tax revenues -- set at $11,628,312 for 2000 -- and eliminate 460 jobs.
If the waste issue is resolved, ''we would be looking very favorably at license renewal and pursuing it at that point,'' Hammer said.
NSP is looking for solutions on several fronts.
Utilities have sued in hopes of making the Department of Energy take responsibility for spent-fuel removal and for storage costs. Congress in 1982 directed the DOE to build a repository with industry surcharge funds. The DOE had been considering a site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, with the possibility of opening a permanent repository in 2010 at the earliest.
The nuclear power industry also is asking Congress to authorize construction of an interim storage facility at Yucca Mountain or another site, using surcharge money.
Meanwhile, NSP and seven other utilities have formed a corporation called Private Fuel Storage that could be running a waste fuel site by late 2003 on land leased three years ago from the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians near Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in December said plans for the facility met safety requirements; the first version of an environmental impact statement is expected in June, said Scott Northard, the NSP manager working with the project.
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